D&D Diary – Waterdeep: Dragon Heist – Session 13

Our heroes break bread with the main villain of this season, Jaraxle Baenre, but the players are completely out to lunch.

Dragon Heist cover full
Four villains to choose from. Can you guess which one we’ll talk about today?

When last we left our heroes, they were on their way to have dinner with Zardoz Zord, the flamboyant and cryptic leader of the Sea Maiden’s Faire, a carnival that recently arrived in Waterdeep. Along the way, they ran afoul of very nasty drow elf, who shot up a local saloon with a pair of six-shooters. Yes, this guy has guns! And one player is determined to pry those guns from his cold dead hands. The drow also dropped a clue, a blueprint to an unidentified building, that will lead the players to an evil plan that needs to be stopped, but my players don’t care about that. They just want his guns!

Now, the big secret of this entire scenario is that Zardoz Zord is really Jarlaxle Baenre, one of the main villains, in disguise. The challenge of this villain is to keep the secret as long as you can, all while dropping subtle hints along the way. To do this, I will reveal all his various disguises and show some ways to play them so that you can slowly leave clues to his true identity without just blurting out the secret and ruining the surprise. I will also talk about his scheme and discuss some ways to make it a little more villainous.

Zardoz Zord
I will also discuss why you find this image if you do a image search for Zardoz Zord. Thank you, RPG Mods Fan.

To hide his drow heritage, Jarlaxle wears a Hat of Disguise. His primary disguise is that of Zardoz Zord, but he disguises himself as a number of other characters throughout the adventure. This magic item is such an important part of playing Jarlaxle that you really need to understand how it works, but the adventure doesn’t tell you. Looking it up in the Dungeon Master’s Guide you see that the Hat allows the wearer to cast Disguise Self an unlimited number of times, at will. Then reading the Player’s Handbook, you learn that this spell allows him to completely alter his appearance while maintaining his same basic form, although he can be taller or shorter, thin or fat. The spell lasts for one hour, but he can just cast it again, over and over. In order to see through the deception, the players need to state that they are specifically inspecting the disguise and then pass a DC17 Investigation check, and nobody ever picks Investigation as a skill. Nobody. So basically, his disguises are impenetrable and fool-proof.

Jarlaxle is the leader of the shadowy Bregan D’aerthe faction, a group of all-male drow elves who are basically banished from their homeland in the Underdark. Jarlaxle is also the secret ruler of the city of Luskan. Luskan is one of the few cities that is not part of the Lord’s Alliance and Jarlaxle wants to fix that. He wants to find the missing gold and then graciously return it to the people of Waterdeep so that they will be willing to accept the city of Luskan into the Lord’s Alliance. But Jarlaxle being who he is, he tries to trick the players into doing all work, then he and his drow minions will sweep in and claim the gold.

Factions 8
The Bregan D’aerthe are one of the eight factions the players can align themselves with. It’s the one with the Death Spider on the banner.

I love this scheme and it fits really well with Jarlaxle’s ambiguous nature and shifting morality. But it isn’t very evil. In fact, his goal is actually rather noble. I also love having Jarlaxle as an amoral antagonist and not an outright bad guy. But my players just want bad guys to beat up and sinister plots to defeat, so we still need a proper villain. I propose that not everyone in the Bregan D’aerthe shares Jarlaxle’s altruistic goals. A splinter group within the faction wants to perpetuate the war against the surface elves. I made the true villain here be Soluun Xibrindas, who is one of Jarlaxle’s Gunslinger lieutenants.

Soluun and those aligned with him have a plan to destroy the Temple to Seldarine (a major elven temple) during The Midsummer Festival. This is the day that many elves choose to return to their homeland on Evermeet and is another reason why I switched Jarlaxle to the summer season. These evil Drow plan to blow up the temple using their stockpile of smokepowder, killing many innocent lives. The Drow that the players encountered at The Elfstone Tavern is Soluun. The blueprint that he dropped is for the Seldarine. I had hoped the players would take the bait and go after this guy. They did, but not because they care about his evil plan; they just want to take his guns!

Seldarine Blueprint
The secret blueprint to an undisclosed location. Will our heroes even follow up on this lead? Who knows?

Soluun isn’t the only threat here. As the leader of the Bregan D’aerthe, Jarlaxle commands the largest group of minions of all the main villains. The crew of his three ships consists of over 70 Drow warriors, including 11th level fighters, 10th level mages, and 13th level rogues. And this doesn’t even count the 50+ carnival folk, numerous animal combatants, or the fact that Jarlaxle is a 19th level rogue with multiple magical items and the highest challenge rating of all the villains. Good luck, you pack of 3rd level noobs!

On top of all this, there is a charm placed on all three of Jarlaxle’s ships. Any Drow elves on board are disguised as humans due to the illusion cast on each ship’s figurehead. There is no Investigation check given to see through this deception but I would make it at least as DC15. This illusion is different from the Hat of Disguise in that the Drow doesn’t choose his appearance, but rather he becomes a humanized version of himself; the ears are rounded over, the skin is lightened, and the hair gains pigment.

Hellraiser
The Eyecatcher in Waterdeep Harbor. You can just make out the mystical figurehead at the bow of the boat.

There are numerous issues and ramification with this Figurehead illusion. Can a Drow choose the nature of his disguise, for instance his hair color, or is it randomly selected? Does the illusion also change the Drow’s clothing or just his physical body? Does a Drow look different depending upon which ship he is on? If Jarlaxle is on board his ship disguised as Zardoz and his Hat of Disguise is knocked off his head, does Zardoz instantly change to a different human-looking person with a bald head, since the real Jarlaxle has shaved off his naturally white hair?

For my game, the disguise is unconsciously chosen by the Drow’s nature. This allows for a variety of disguised appearances but still allowed me to let my “evil” Drow look evil. The illusion also changes any clothing to a generic sailor/carnival outfit. But if the players encounter a Drow within the city and then encounters the same drow in disguise on the ship and the players state their suspicions, then I would lower the Investigation check to a DC12 or even 10. Or you could go in a completelt different direction and make it so that every single disguised drow looks completely identical. That would be strange and creepy and certainly raise suspicions.

But more important than the mechanics of the disguise, is how to carefully role-play encounters involving Jarlaxle while in disguise. When the reveal occurs, whether it is through player action or the DM decides to end the charade, you want the players to look back and realize how all the prior encounters and strange inconsistencies led to this dramatic moment. You don’t want the players to say, “Well, that came out of nowhere.”

DM Surprise
Bad, DM, bad! Thank you Blaine Pardoe from whom I stole this meme.

In addition, you have to be careful how you play the encounters with the other disguised Drow on board the ships. Jarlaxle’s hat allows him to stay in disguise wherever he goes. The same is not true for the crew. The figurehead aboard each ship creates the illusion and they appear human only while on board. Anytime they leave the ship for any reason, they revert back to their Drow form. So, you will never see any sailors from the Sea Maiden’s Faire on the dock; they will never go on shore, or even pass from ship to ship. Only under cover of the night and only if the players are actively surveilling the ship at that time, would the players have any chance of seeing any drow lurking around the ships.

Drow Docks
How do you spot a dark elf, at night, hiding in shadows? You don’t stupid; they kill you first.

Next, we need to look at these Drow minions and their alter egos. Who are they when they are in disguise? (I will deal with Jarlaxle’s disguises separately.) Oddly, more is written about the three ship’s captains that anyone else, including Zardoz Zord. And nothing at all is mentioned about the three drow gunslingers who are the main drow “enemies” that the players will be up against within Waterdeep. Plus, there is the issue is that the captains are never encountered in the city and the gunslingers are never encountered on the ships. This is a mistake. By presenting these Drow in only one context, the players will never make any connection between the two.

Drow Gunslinger
There is no word in Drow for gunslinger, so we’ll call them Bad’mofos.

I like the alter egos and personalities of the three captains, which are found on page 132. The only change I made was to make the bitter Captain Klarr/Tylan part of the group of evil Drow trying to blow up the Seldarine. He is the captain of the Heartbreaker which houses all of the animals and a very few non-Drow performers. The size of Soluun’s splinter group is small, maybe 10 – 12 Drow, and most of them live on this ship. When the inevitable siege and most likely fire occurs on this ship, I’ll manipulate James’ love of animals to force a complication, where the group has to save the circus animals before the ship sinks.

But it is with the drow gunslingers that the players will have the most interaction and it is with these three that the cracks in the illusion will be revealed. Sadly, the book gives no details about the gunslingers’ possible disguises. Here is my solution to that oversight.

In his human disguise, Soluun, my true villain, is Sarn Verin. In the drow language this translates to “Beware Evil”. Of course, my players are not fluent in Drowish, so this detail is purely for me. Following their encounter at the Elfstone Tavern, Soluun despises the players and he cannot hide his contempt, even when it is in his best interest to do so, as we will see later on.

Meanwhile, Fel’rekt and Krebbyg are loyal to Jaraxle and are not part of Soluun’s plan. I also made them identical twins whose human aliases are Fellen and Krellin Maskar. I happen to have two identical human and two drow minis that all have the same pose. I thought it would be fun to roleplay that even Jarlaxle/Zardoz can’t tell them apart regardless if they are disguised or not.

HP Weasley Twins
If it worked for these two, it’ll work for you too.

As for Jarlaxle, here is where you will need to put the most work to drop hints and clues to his secret without being too obvious about it. During the course of the adventure, Jarlaxle plays at least 5 different personas. Aside from Jarlaxle and Zardoz, he plays Rongquan Mystere, a theater owner from the Shou region (the Realms version of China); J. B. Nevercott, a local haberdasher; Erystian Demarne, an actor who has snuck into a noble’s party during one of the Harper missions; and he even impersonates Laeral Silverhand, the Open Lord of Waterdeep. BTW, this last impersonation of a Lord is a crime punishable by death.

As I’ve said, the players have no real opportunity to passively see through these disguises. They have to state that they are deliberately looking for it. But the fact is that most players take everything at face value, they have no reason to be suspect this grand illusion. You have to give them reason to be suspicious, but you have to do this subtly. This is one of the hardest things to roleplay. But here are a few tips.

Jaraxle square
The worst part of all these disguises is that you never really get a chance to roleplay one of the coolest characters of the Forgotten Realms. He’s always too busy playing someone else.

I have all of Jarlaxle’s disguises speak using the same voice. By voice, I mean his speech patterns, not actorly accents. I’m not Matt Mercer. Basically, Jarlaxle uses overtly verbose diction and superfluous word choices to prove how smart he is and he always uses “ye” and “thee” and “thou” to sound upper class. Second, he always gesticulates with his hands while he is talking. This is something I physically do at the table when I am speaking as Jarlaxle. None of my other NPCs do this. Third, Jarlaxle, and the other drow, will often speak a word in the drow language, such as “vedaust” for goodbye, or “darthirii” for elf. This is in addition to the fact that all of the nimblewright instructions are said in drow. The website I use for all Drow translations is The Chosen of Eiliastree. Lastly, I gave Jarlaxle a few phrases that he says in each of his disguises. One of his phrases comes straight from the novels, “There are reasons for things that a casual observer might not understand.” The other he says at the end of each encounter, “Inviddus dro zhah inlul,” (Life is small (meaningless), til we meet again).

This may seem like too many obvious clues. But it is not. Your players receive so many details during a session that it is hard to know which one are relevant and connected. It will take several sessions for your players to put it all together, and that’s good. This should be a slow reveal and not just “Hey, look at me! This NPC is doing something really weird. Play attention to this guy!” This will probably be most apparent when the players meet the real Laeral Silverhand and she sounds and acts completely different than when Jarlaxle was disguised as her. It’s very possible that your players might never pick up on these clues, and that’s okay too. When the reveal does occur, hopefully they will remember all these little bits and it will all make sense.

Zardoz Connery
If you really want the players to be suspicious, then have Zardoz look and act like his real-life inspiration. This is Sean Connery in the absolutely bizarro film, “Zardoz”. And he wears this bizarre costume throughout the movie. Even more bizarre, his character isn’t named Zardoz. It’s Zed.

Enough setup, let’s move onto the main event and play a little game of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? In full disclosure, I made a terrible DM Sin during this encounter; I dragged it out too long. I role played a tour of all three ships, including separate meetings with all three captains, and it completely overwhelmed the players. They were dizzy by the end of it, and didn’t remember half of the details. My intent was to show off all the flavor details aboard the ships and give the players opportunity to questions each captain, who all had unique personalities and attitudes. But it played flat and the players just wanted to get to the good part. I should have run a very brief tour of just one ship and the get right to the dinner. If I could do it again, here’s how I would play it to give out some good clues, have some good roleplay and keep your players engaged.

When the players arrive on the docks with Margo and Khafeyta, they find that the dock is mostly empty. There are a few carnival folk practicing or dancing on the pier, but there are no sailors about. All the carnival folk, like Margo and Khafeyta, are real humans and not drow in disguise, so they can come and go as they please off the boats. Also, most of them do not know the true nature of Zardoz Zord and his crew, but a few might have their suspicions. Only a couple, like Margo and Khafeyta, know the whole charade. And none of them will reveal this secret willingly.

Zardoz mini full
Zardoz Zord with Margo and Khafeyta. I even based Zardoz’s mini on Ramirez (see below).

Zardoz is there on the docks (he is the only disguised drow not bound to the ships), waiting for them and he is his usual jovial self. I initially based Zardoz on the ringleader in Moulin Rogue, but with so many Connery references to the character (there are more coming), I now base Zardoz on Juan Sanchez Villalobos Ramirez, Connery’s character in Highlander, complete with bad Scottish accent. “Ah, there ye are! I was worried. Ye are rather late. What kept ye?” My players told him there were an accident but didn’t give any details. Margo added that a Drow attacked the Elfstone Tavern and she emphasized the word “drow”.

Zardoz continued, “A drow ye say? Ooh, that is very bad for business… and for Waterdeep. Very untrustworthy, the drow are. Almost killed our draconic friend and got away, did he? That tis a shame. Well, no use crying over spilt venom. I’m sure he’ll get what he deserves in the end. But ye didn’t come here for that. I’ll meet ye on the Eyecatcher, and give ye a proper tour and a delectable feast. Inviddus dro zhah inlul,” then he throws down a magician’s smoke ball and vanishes. (He used his Cloak of Invisibility and then his submarine to get to his boat before the players.) Khafeyta just shakes her head and laughs, “He is such a show-off.”

Highlander Ramirez
Stop reading this blog and go watch “Highlander”. There can be only one! Ramirez is on the left.

At the end of the pier is a large rowboat. In the rowboat is a person who appears to be the strongman from the circus. He is there to row the players and their escorts to the Eyecatcher. The strongman complained the whole time about why he was doing this taxi service and not one of the sailors on the ship. Clearly, he is unaware of the sailors’ true nature. Khafeyta tried to keep him in line by telling him what good exercise this was and how girls love men with big muscles. I expected my players to ask him some questions, especially when he rowed them back to shore after dinner, but they did not engage with him.

When the players arrive at the Eyecatcher, Zardoz is waiting for them again. He introduces the players to the skipper of the Eyecatcher, Captain Tarwind Arryhook, (real name, Llorath Pharn). Captain Arryhook is friendly and cordial with the players, but he is not used to speaking in Common, so his speech pattern is slightly off. Mostly, he doesn’t use any participles like “the” and “a”. He says, “Welcome aboard Eyecatcher, I being Captain Phar…Arryhook.” Jarlaxle is shaking his head and makes an excuse to leave (again) and check on the dinner preparations while Captain Arryhook conduct a tour. Zardoz asks Margo and Khafeyta to assist him. This is so he can get info out of the girls, but also so the players have another opportunity to ask questions privately with this new NPC. My player failed to take advantage of this (again).

Map DH7.1 Sea Maiden Ships DM web
Sea Maidens’ Faire ships DM Map – It’s been a while since we’ve had a new map. The magic figureheads are at location J8. 

Now the key feature of the ship that the players need to discover (but not just yet) is the carved figureheads at the bow of the ship. I need to draw attention to them without revealing everything. Captain Arryhook gives a very perfunctory and not-used-to-public-speaking spiel about the main deck. “This is main deck. Below us is cargo hold, stairs, there. Up there is aftcastle and ship’s wheel. High on main mast, we fly flag of Luskan…” I have all the players roll a perception check. The result is irrelevant; everyone will pass. I just want the players to realize that something is happening and pay attention. As the DM, I say, “You all notice the elegantly carved figurehead of an elven maiden at the bow of the boat. She is exquisite in her beauty and almost mesmerizing.”

One player took the bait and asked, “What’s up with the statue?”

The captain is taken aback by this interruption to his recital. “Oh, you mean the figurehead? Well, she is beautiful, no? Crafted by most gifted Ilythirii artists. We no notice her anymore. Moving on…” I wanted a player to ask what an Ilythirii was, but no one did. If they had, Arryhook would have lied and said that it is the Luskan word for “Elven”. It is really the drow word for “Drow”. My hope is that someone will investigate these inconsistencies, but I fear that these details are going to be ignored completely by my players. I’ll have to be more direct.

Map DH7.1 Sea Maiden Ships PC web
Sea Maidens’ Faire ships PC Map – I did not actually show any of this to my players, but I am working on something special for when combat occurs here.

The whole purpose of this tour is to show the general layout of the boats and the location of some key features. Later, when the players return to investigate or sabotage the ship, they can navigate the ship quickly, allowing you to run the scenario like a tense and exciting heist instead of a dungeon crawl. I count this as the info-gathering/ recon portion of any heist. I tell my players directly that they now know their way around these ships. This allows them to start thinking of ways to sneak around the ships even before they have a reason to do so.

It is important that you keep this tour short. I had dragged it out too long and bored my players. But there were a few important details that occurred in the cargo hold. I added that one of the owlbears was kept here, separate from the rest because he is too aggressive. I have plans for this owlbear and wanted to introduce him here. When I mentioned the torn flumph balloon listed in the book, James got very excited. He has been obsessed with flumphs lately and I’ve been trying to work one into the campaign. He quickly thought to fix it with a Mending spell. I will use this detail during dinner. It is important to remember that James’ wizard, Riandon, is a surface elf. I also told the players that they could go to the lower deck, that is the private quarters of Zardoz Zord. They all immediately wanted to get down there.

DH colored Spiders
The tour included this painted spider floats, but these aren’t floats. The flupmh is only there to tease James.

Wrapping up the tour the group adjourns to the dining room on the main deck and here is where I did everything I could to make the players uncomfortable. Everything was friendly and smiling on the surface but there was a palpable undercurrent of uncertainty and hatred. I wanted my players to think that they were being set-up and could be attacked at any moment. This almost worked out to well, as we’ll see.

When the group enters the dining room , they realize immediately that they are outnumbered. In addition to Zardoz, the girls, and Captain Arryhook, there are two other humans who turn out to be the captains of the other ship. Captain Fergus Crabwater (Velgos Ephezzrin) seems to already be drunk, but Captain Klarr Besham (Tylan Ilueph) is absolutely livid at the introduction of the party. “What is the meaning of this, Zardoz? You did not tell me that we were dining with this darthirii e’trit! (Elven filth)” Klarr said as he spat on the floor. Remember, Captain Klarr is a part of Soluun’s splinter group and he hates all surface elves, especially Riandon starting right now.

DH Captains minis
Captain Klarr, the one who hates Riadon, is in the middle. In disguise, of course.

Zardoz immediately chastises Captain Klarr, “These are me honored guests, and they will be treated civilly. Is that understood, Mister Besham?”

“Yes, Jabbuk (Master).”

“Ye’ll have to forgive me uncouth friend. The Luskan are quite gregarious but wary of strangers. Some more than others, which is why they are forbidden from leaving the ships. Because they cannot be trusted. Isn’t that right, Mister Besham? But please, let us dine.”

I played the dinner scene like the one from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, filled with local delicacies designed to repulse us arrogant Americans. Except that all the cuisine here comes from the Underdark. First, there was Bluecap bread with Firelichen jelly which was quite spicy. The appetizers consisted of Fried Triel which was crispy and crunchy and turned out to be bat wings; Skewered Tizzin was actually lizard on a stick; and a big bowl of Inlu’thi that looked like mussels in the shell but was really raw beetles sucked right out of the carapace. The entrée was Rothe Tartar. A rothe is like a gamey muskox and was served so rare that it was still bleeding. This is all washed down with Jasmarim Shadow, a thick, red wine that is so potent that the players had to roll a DC5 Constitution check to keep from getting drunk off just one glass. And don’t worry, your players will not realize how obvious you are being, they will just assume you are trying to be gross.

TOD Dinner
I suppose if you really wanted you could also have Snake Surprise. Just call it “Cahlind Brorn”.

I also played into the animosity between Captain Klarr and Riandon. I had them all choose where they sat at the table. Riandon happened to sit next to Captain Klarr, who immediately got up and moved to the other side of the table, even making the drunk Captain Crabwater move. Then during the dinner “conversation”, Captain Arryhook mentioned that Riandon fixed the broken flumph balloon with a Mending spell. Zardoz responded, “Ye see Mister Besham, not all darthirii are so bad. Why did none of ye think do that?” To which, Captain Besham replied, “Because that spell is beneath us. We are men. Mending is a spell for little boys.” Even James, who is very slow to attack without cause, wanted to kill this guy.

The majority of the encounter was me attempting to hold a conversation between Zardoz/Jarlaxle and my players, some good and some just me monologuing. Basically, I just kept asking questions about things that the players were doing, “So how goes ye hunt for the golden nimblewright?” What had this nimble done to put ye on its trail? What was this killed gnome coming to ye for? The Stone of Golor, what’s that?” Incredibly, the players just told him the whole story without any deception. Your players may be a little less forthcoming.

Try to throw some personal interaction in as well. Riandon happens to own a Figurine of Wondrous Power and Zardoz/Jarlaxle saw it in use so he asked about that. “Riandon, the other day, ye were flying on a winged leopard. Is it real, or a summoned creature?” Riandon explained about the Figurine and even showed it to Zardoz when asked. Zardoz continued, “Aah, I once adventured with a pompous ass of a ranger who has one of these, but it was a panther and did not fly. They are fascinating items are they not?” This refers to the famous Drow, Drizz’t Do’Urden, and his panther, Guenhwyvar. My players were not familiar with this bit of trivia, but I have mentioned it on purpose outside of the game. How much meta-gaming info you can drop will depend upon your players.

Drizzt Guenhwyvar
Drizzt Do’Urden and Guenhwyvar. And yes, he is the inspiration for the parade float that farts confetti.

A few minutes into the conversation, two more disguised drow entered the room. These are Fel’rekt and Krebbyg, the two Drow Gunslingers whom are not involved with Soluun evil scheme. Zardoz introduces them, “It’s about time. May I introduce Fellen and Krellen Maskar, two of my glenn’kyorl. Ye would call them, what is the word? Yes, Lieutenants. Ye don’t mind if they join us, do ye?” The two sit down and now the players really feel outnumbered. Zardoz turns to one of the newcomers and continues, “Fellen, where have ye been? Is Sarn with ye? I want to talk with him.”

“Sir, I’m Krellin.”

“I don’t care who ye are. Ye two need a way to tell the difference between ye, or I’ll make ye wear a nametag and revoke ye shore privileges. Now where’s Sarn?”

“I apologize, Jabbuk. I don’t know where Sarn is. He is not with us.”

I generally try to avoid having a back-and-forth conversation between two NPCs, but here I felt it was necessary. Moving on, Jack’s Eragon wanted to try and do some snooping, but he didn’t do it very gracefully and Jaraxle would never let these guys walk about his ship alone. Eragon asked to go to the bathroom. Zardoz replied, “Krellin, accompany our guest to the privies and make sure he doesn’t get lost.”

“I’m Fellen.” Zardoz just glared at him. Comedy gold.

DH Gunslinger Disguises mini
The Drow Gunslingers and their human disguises. Soluun, the one who hates Regizar, is in the middle.

Eragon was locked in the toilets at the front of the ship with only one door in or out. He attempted to use his acid breath to burn a hole in the ship, but was disappointed when it just made a 6-inch divot and didn’t even penetrate the hull. Dejected, he exited the john and headed back to the dinner. I hoped he would ask Fellen some questions, but alas he did not (again). I did reward his attempt at snooping by having them come across two human sailors who were carrying a heavy chest through the hold. They looked sheepish and guilty when they were seen. Maybe the players will think that they are smugglers or something. I don’t care what they suspect, so long as it causes them to investigate them further.

Now, if you thought I was pretty heavy-handed with the clues up to now, once Eragon returned to dining table, I really laid it on thick. After a few minutes of banter, I tell my players that the whole ship just rocked as if it just got struck by something underwater. Zardoz explained, “Do not concern yeself. There are whales and merfolk and I hear that even a dragon lives in the harbor and occasionally they bump into the ship. Ye get used to it.”

Underwater
You know what also bumps into ships? Secret submarines hidden underneath. BTW the name of this vessel is The Scarlet Marpenoth, aka The Red October, another Sean Connery movie reference.

A few minutes later, another sailor enters the dining room. I tell my group, “This one is also human, with black hair and a face that can only be described as filled with hate. He is dressed like the others, but his right arm is in a sling and there is fresh blood coming from a wound on his right shoulder. His eyes are pure black, like a shark’s, and they widen when he sees you three sitting around the table. If it was possible, the eyes fill with even more hate. There is murder in those eyes.”

Andrew was ready to pounce on this guy. “Is this the same guy from before?” I explain that this one is human and the one before was a drow elf, but since Andrew is sufficiently suspicious, I give him an Investigation check to determine if he sees through the disguise. I gave him a DC12 and I was prepared to go straight to combat if this passed. I was happy with either result. But the dice wanted the deception to continue and Regizar, the character, failed to see through the illusion. But Andrew, the player, is determined to find a reason to kill this guy.

DH Gunslingers minis
This was my original incarnation of the Gunslingers. They are actually western minis with guns, but the guns weren’t very apparent and they weren’t very intimidating.

“Vel’bol zhah nindol vith’ez e’trit xundus ghil? (What is this effing filth doing here)” the sailor demanded, whom you can probably guess is Soluun disguised as Sarn Verin.

“Venorsh! (Silence)” Zardoz commanded, “Well, if it isn’t me favorite mal’ai (idiot), Sarn Verin. Have ye been inspecting the lower holds again? I don’t care. Don’t answer. We will discuss this later. Come, eat.”

Sarn/Soluun refused to sit down and stood behind Regizar instead. This drove Andrew nuts. Finally, here was an NPC that he really wanted to roleplay with. Or kill, they’re kind of the same thing.

“How did you get those injuries, Sarn?”

“None of your business, Srow (scum).”

“Do you ever get off this ship and have a few shots at any local taverns, say about an hour ago?”

“No, Yibin Tanth (weak worm). Have you ever seen the fiery pits of Uoi’nota (Hell), say about right now?”

I can’t believe that Andrew did not attack this guy right here and now. He told me afterwards that he really wanted to but that he wanted to see what direction I was taking this. Before we came to blows, a little paper bird came fluttering in from one of the open portholes. Of course, I printed the note out and folded into an origami bird and threw it onto the table. The players opened it and read that the Harpers have another mission for the players to go on. This one involves the 3rd level mission; clearing a bookstore of a particular floating monster.

Paper Bird
The paper bird I threw at my players and the instructions to make your own

Zardoz looks at the note and says, “Well, it appears we all have our masters. You better hurry along. The Harpers can be a demanding and impatient bunch. Ye remind me so much of me adventuring days. Gods how I miss them. Ye are welcome here anytime. Ussta ozam dosst ozam (My ship is your ship). Who knows, I may even have some tasks that ye may be able to help me with. Inviddus dro zhah inlul.”

As the party is being escorted off the ship, Sarn/Soluun leans into Regizar and whispers in his ear, “Usstan orn jiku l’siltrin dal dosst ilingen (I will rend the flesh from your bones).” Sarn accentuates this by adding the motion of his thumb slashing his throat.

Regizar spits back, “Anytime, anyplace. Bring some friends, cause I’m going to kill you.”

As the party is lowered down to the launch, Sarn give them the “shooting finger gun” symbol. “I’m really going to kill that guy,” Andrew vows.

Next week, our heroes finally catch up with the rogue nimblewright, but they are no closer to finding the elusive Stone of Golor.

Nimblewright Wanted
Oh yeah, I forgot we were even looking for this guy.

Check out my Waterdeep Campaign Resources page for a complete listing of all of the maps, handouts, and accessories I used while playing Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.

And for an expanded look at all four villains, how to play them and how to incorporate them all into one giant campaign, check out my post on Waterdeep: Dragon Heist – The Villains.

As always, you’d be shocked how blatantly obvious you can be and still surprise your players, and Game On!

So when you look at me / You better look hard and look twice / Is that me baby / Or just a brilliant disguise – Bruce Springsteen

DH Jarlaxle mini
Of course, Jaraxle has an “official” mini. Although we haven’t met this version yet.

2 thoughts on “D&D Diary – Waterdeep: Dragon Heist – Session 13

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